Random "Village with a Cult" Generator Inspired by Scenic Dunnsmouth (Part 2)
Carrying on from the previous post, the goal here is to come up with a pool of NPCs who have enough color built in to make this list more meaningful than just rolling on general random NPC trait tables, yet still allow enough freedom to be adapted to the overall village as needed. I assigned occupations for a number of them, but I think they can still be used to fill in people in charge of d12 special places (smithy, witch's hut, etc.) by either treating the assumed occupation as a major hobby or simply throwing it out and adapting the rest of the traits in a sensible way.
The NPCs are meant to be selected by a random draw of standard playing cards, including jokers. Since my suggested size for the village allows for up to 9 notable villagers, you could use the list to make six different villages with no repeats, as long as the used NPCs aren't shuffled back into the deck.
A few notes before getting to the list:
The goal for each NPC is to impart three pieces of information: (a) a starting point for roleplay, (b) a potential reason to have them interact with the PCs, and (c) an additional trait or detail in case of being a cultist which doesn't override who they are already. That limitation on the third piece is important to me because it works to add some obfuscation to whether a given NPC is a cultist and it avoids using "cultist" as a metaphorical hat for "evil". I know those won't be concerns for all GMs, but this is what works for me.
In cases where I write in some relationships with other NPCs, I almost always refer them to previous NPCs so that, in the best case, the relationship can be contextualized immediately. If there aren't enough prior cards to fill the role, then those connections can be built with the following NPCs. I'd think this is obvious, but I've run into enough cases of problems picking up on implicit instructions to justify saying it outright.
A handful of the entries give some extra details in the "IF CULTIST" addition that can be used even if the NPC isn't a cultist (e.g. with the 4 of clubs, they can still have a storage room of scrap cloth and raw thread either way). The entries are all pretty brief, so I like packing in some further embellishment.
Also, I know I mentioned being able to use this generator for non-cult secrets in Part 1. While I stand by that, the "IF CULTIST" additions may be rather hit-or-miss in that case.
Lastly, no quantitative descriptions in terms of game mechanics are given. I trust a GM looking to use random scenario generators posted on blogs is capable of filling in those numbers to their tastes.
Ace - Octogenarian who thinks the first three NPCs are sexual deviants. Serves cloyingly sweet tea to all guests and spreads bad rumors about any who refuse it.
IF CULTIST: The tea will be spiked with a mild narcotic meant for entering trances.
2 - Newcomer to the village. Knows little about the area, cares for even less except farming kale, and has no patience for tomfoolery.
IF CULTIST: Will be involved in plans to spread the cult.
3 - Former jeweler reduced to begging after losing a hand in a hunting accident. Full of self-loathing for being dependent on others now, but does what they must to survive.
IF CULTIST: Hidden room in cellar full of mangled attempts at creating artful iconography.
4 - Self-appointed guardian of the village. Actually a sadistic deadbeat mooching off of their family's weaving business who enjoys harassing transients.
IF CULTIST: The room full of scrap cloth and raw thread will be used to muffle the screams of torture victims.
5 - Loner who relies on own farming/hunting/gathering for food, but will help other villagers in times of need. Has an unrequited crush on the previous NPC.
IF CULTIST: Hopes that what they gain from the cult can win the affection of their crush.
6 - Constantly gives half-baked advice to others and relies on debating semantics if the flaws are mentioned. Actually smart but somewhat delusional.
IF CULTIST: Will annoy other cultists incessantly with unwanted life hacks.
7 - The best cook in the village, and not afraid to be vocal about it.
IF CULTIST: Supplies the narcotics used in the cult's communing rituals.
8 - Former mercenary, well-traveled and friendly. Lies about their past by claiming to have been a regular soldier for more prestige.
IF CULTIST: The shed will be full of weapons improvised from farming tools, and any other cultists will have similar arms secreted away.
9 - Withdrawn and taciturn. Believes that the small iron idol in the bedroom is possessed by a god who speaks in their dreams.
IF CULTIST: The idol is "clearly" an aspect of the cult's patron.
10 - Flamboyant local performer, only half as talented as they are colorful. The previous NPC is annoyed by their nightly practice.
IF CULTIST: Tries to work subversive themes into their performances, but lacks the talent to be very subtle about it.
Jack - Soft-spoken introvert, with a tendency to take things very literally. Becomes passionate and verbose if the conversation turns to reptiles; otherwise curt to the point of rudeness.
IF CULTIST: Pet turtle is named after the cult's patron or leader.
Queen - Gregarious farmhand, always eager to hear stories about other places. Feels guilty about the lynching that happened after framing a vagrant for the death of the previous NPC's dog.
IF CULTIST: Sends their adult children to spy on any suspicious outsiders.
King - Eccentric herbalist whose workspace is always cluttered with incense and carved bone fetishes. Never stays on one topic.
IF CULTIST: Lends their brass alembic for use in rituals.
Ace - Fake intellectual, proud of their library despite being illiterate. Plots revenge against the previous NPC for a perceived slight from years ago.
IF CULTIST: Under their bed is a flesh-bound book with older scriptures about the cult than any others in the village.
2 - Lazy slob who finds hygiene too troublesome to worry about. Always chewing on something despite having a smile that's more voids than teeth. Extremely nosy.
IF CULTIST: You really don't want to know what they're chewing on.
3 - Pompous glassblower with no sense of humor. Gets angry when the previous NPC calls them "bauble-blower".
IF CULTIST: Their furnace is used to destroy any unseemly evidence that can burn.
4 - Entitled adult brat who's remarkably attractive enough to get away with it. Has the previous NPC wrapped around little finger despite treating them like an object.
IF CULTIST: Not actually devout and just sees the cult as their ticket to an easy life.
5 - Babbling village idiot. As likely to wear clothes as not. Mostly incoherent but cared for communally out of pity.
IF CULTIST: Ramblings will occasionally include references to the cult's practices.
6 - Estranged child of the previous NPC. Quick to posture and project dominance, but actually a coward.
IF CULTIST: Hopes desperately that the cult will lead them to real power.
7 - Very demure and conservative, but will complain about life partner's flaws to any sympathetic ear. Always looking for a lucky break to strike off on their own.
IF CULTIST: Sees the cult as a chance to finally get their break.
8 - Doesn't believe anything they can't see or understand for themselves. Jumps on any excuse to belittle or bully others of opposite sex.
IF CULTIST: Doesn't actually believe and is just looking to exploit the other cultists.
9 - Waiting out their days to succumb to a terminal illness. Full of ennui and regrets, but will repay genuine efforts to help them.
IF CULTIST: Joined in hopes that the cult would lead to a cure, too depressed by reality to change their ways now.
10 - Bounty hunter who's often rougher than necessary to subdue their quarry but otherwise acts with professional efficiency. Mistakes one of the PCs for a wanted target.
IF CULTIST: Makes dissidents disappear on behalf of the cult.
Jack - So condescendingly self-righteous that the rod up their butt has a rod up its butt. Gives opinions on everything, but has a deathly fear of taking any responsibility.
IF CULTIST: Will have an obsession with doing everything strictly according to scripture.
Queen - Friendly and outgoing. Inks tattoos as a hobby. Hoards cats like a dragon, and takes good care of them.
IF CULTIST: Is the artist who marks cult members with the cult's icon.
King - Former assassin who joined the village a decade ago as a simple potato farmer. Very private. The allure from their air of mystery is a constant source of drama.
IF CULTIST: Sees devotion to the cult as a chance to make amends for their former life.
Ace - Taxidermist whose behavior would be bland and normal if it wasn't for a constant almost-smile that comes off as rather creepy.
IF CULTIST: Has a hidden horrid amalgam mount representing the cult's patron.
2 - Airheaded, promiscuous youth. Has romantic feelings for the previous NPC, but gets no respect from anyone but the next NPC, who loves them.
IF CULTIST: In private, will be treated with some reverence by other cult members, who view their acts of congress as minor communions.
3 - Incorrigible gossip who puts on a friendly face in public and spreads vicious rumors in private.
IF CULTIST: Will try to tease out enemies of the cult to marshal others against.
4 - Outspoken critic of others for being too miserly and self-absorbed. Blissfully ignorant to the benefits of their inheritance from their now-deceased adventuring parents.
IF CULTIST: Hopeless idealist who sees the cult as an engine for social reform.
5 - Mild-mannered pig farmer. Nobody suspects how many hearts they have sacrificed to the idol in their cellar.
IF CULTIST: Uses the cult to gather support for their dark deity from below.
6 - Mercurial baker who would've been run off for ruffling the wrong feathers if they weren't such a master of their craft. Refuses to serve goods to the previous NPC and any acting as their proxy.
IF CULTIST: Charges transients excessively to raise funds for the cult.
7 - Nervous grave digger, easily startled. Always worried about repercussions from a murder they committed in another village two decades earlier.
IF CULTIST: Counts on the cult's protection from their past transgression.
8 - Loud-mouthed braggart who stops tooting their own horn only to preach outdated and often hypocritical views. Lacks the sense to ever keep their mouth shut, even when it hurts them.
IF CULTIST: Uses cult connections for their own personal gain.
9 - Straightforward and honest to a fault. Reacts poorly to inconsiderate travelers. Stand-offish with any but the previous NPC.
IF CULTIST: Knows very few actual details because everyone else knows they can't be trusted with a secret.
10 - Well-groomed smooth-talker who never misses a chance to get someone indebted to them. Habitual liar, but mostly harmless and folds quickly if their ruses are discovered.
IF CULTIST: Tries to pass themselves off as the cult's second-in-command (especially if they're actually the leader).
Jack - Arrogant potter with a strong passive-aggressive streak. Their talent is not worth their attitude, but their supply of illicit drugs to the previous two NPCs keeps them in business.
IF CULTIST: Tries to get other cultists addicted to their drugs.
Queen - Just about the nicest person ever. Won't turn down any but the most audacious requests. Very organized and proper.
IF CULTIST: Will be the cult's chief record-keeper.
King - Talented leatherworker who's always doing two favors for every one paid job they take, despite their life partner's complaints.
IF CULTIST: The cult's belts, thongs, and/or restraints are of the highest quality, courtesy of their hand.
Ace - Mostly unsuccessful falconer whose income is reliant on performing unusual sexual favors. Puts on an air of competence that's seen through easily by anyone with actual knowledge of the conversation matter.
IF CULTIST: Has clear evidence of affair with another cultist that only an idiot would keep.
2 - Reclusive sculptor, responsible for the grand esoteric statue in the middle of the village. Communicates through notes slipped under their front door.
IF CULTIST: The cult's patron can hear/see through the grand statue.
3 - Charismatic busybody with a penchant for acting and mimicry. Tries to get hired on by travelers.
IF CULTIST: Working on a dramatized screenplay inspired by the cult's tenets.
4 - Paranoid and withdrawn, afraid of anyone discovering the unwholesome bargain they made to receive granulated salts from the faeries outside the village.
IF CULTIST: Donated a magical faerie talisman for the cult's use, hoping that would end their bargain. It didn't.
5 - Dour pessimist, muscular from stonecutting. Keeps the skulls of any vagrants who come into their home alone and disposes of the bodies via the well in their basement.
IF CULTIST: Makes unsettling statuary for the cult's use.
6 - Cheerful cartwright who turns into a violent boor when drunk. Swore off drinking over guilt about assaulting the previous NPC, but has terrible self-control.
IF CULTIST: Got caught up in the cult due to peer pressure.
7 - Amicable and warm senior, when they can shut up about their newest puppy. Secretly a biological parent of the previous NPC.
IF CULTIST: Breeds guard dogs for other cultists.
8 - Aloof and dry tax collector, in service to a distant noble. Mostly reviled by the other villagers, but they're a skilled hand with a sword, and stone buildings don't burn easily.
IF CULTIST: Collects more from non-cultists to pressure them into joining.
9 - Lascivious sociopath, on a power trip after getting away with sexually assaulting the previous NPC.
IF CULTIST: Extorts other cultists for sexual favors.
10 - Short-tempered hunter who's grown cynical and jaded with humanity's capacity for cruelty. Smells like nature, in a bad way. Brutal combatant if provoked.
IF CULTIST: Non-cultists are kept subdued by threats of being targeted by the hunter.
Jack - Young scamp with a quick smile and a fondness for practical jokes. Excuses any items stolen from travelers as having been planted by goblins.
IF CULTIST: Used as a spy without really understanding what they're doing.
Queen - Very empathetic and tries to make time for everyone despite overloading themselves, but has a mean streak for any who try taking advantage of them. Bears a deep grudge against the previous NPC due to an abusive relationship.
IF CULTIST: Knows all of the other cultists and works subtly to push them to greater achievements.
King - Escaped slave who does menial tasks around the village. Acts subservient but can't hide their past education and military training.
IF CULTIST: Plotting to overthrow their former owner with the cult's help.
Black - Irresponsible farmhand with no sense of schedule, known for going missing for days at a time. Very happy-go-lucky attitude. Protected the previous NPC from a pack of wolves.
IF CULTIST: Actually a werewolf, hoping their cult activities can lead them to a cure for their curse.
Red – A mysterious fortune teller who speaks in cryptic nonsense and pseudo-mysticism. Tolerated by the other villagers to avoid being hexed.
IF CULTIST: Actually a puppet of an otherworldly entity using the cult as a front.
In the next part, I'll go through an example or two of actually making the village and preparing to use it in a game.